New book commemorates Fleischer Studios’ beloved, sassy character, celebrating her 90th anniversary this year.
The original female star of animation is back in Susan Wilking Horan and Kristi Ling Spencer’s new book, “Betty Boop’s Guide to a Bold and Balanced Life,” now available from Amazon. Drawing upon the original Betty Boop cartoons and lessons Betty learned 90 years ago – the same lessons and issues with which every modern woman faces today – the book not only celebrates Fleischer animation, but provides entertaining and empowering lessons designed for girls and women of every age.
Horan is an author and attorney who has worked alongside husband Mark Fleischer (Max Fleischer’s grandson) at Fleischer Studios and their agents, King Features, for the past 20 years, managing and overseeing international merchandising and licensing for all the studios’ cartoon characters. “After years of helping others with their Betty Boop projects, I really wanted to do something myself with this iconic character,” she reveals.
The idea for this book came together when Horan was doing research for composer David Foster, whom she’d been working with on the Betty Boop musical. “I offered to help, and as I was screening the old Betty Boop cartoons for David, I realized again that the issues Betty faced 90 years ago and throughout her career are the same issues we modern women face today,” she shares. “I thought a book inspired by these cartoons, packed with advice, tips, anecdotes and tons of fabulous old screen shots and modern images, would be a great project.”
Spencer, an author, branding expert and inspirational speaker, is Horan and Fleischer’s long-time publicist; during one of their business meetings, Horan mentioned her book idea, which Spencer loved enough to join as co-author.
According to Fleischer, “The legacy of Fleischer Studios is its unique marrying of invention, creativity and humor. Max created the Rotoscope that made modern animation possible. After creating that founding technology, he put his creativity to work, ultimately producing some of the best loved and ahead-of their-time animated series ever, including the Betty Boop and Popeye series.”
“Betty Boop in particular has left us a legacy that continues to evolve today,” he continues. “Betty embodied the first female animated star who embraced and was unafraid of her sexuality. She stood for sassiness, compassion, iconoclasm and independence. In fact, she was the first, and possibly still only, animated female superstar who was not associated with a male counterpart. She was also an ahead-of-her-time animal activist and champion of the underdog.”
“I would love for all of Betty’s fans – new and old – to read the book and realize that they are not alone,” Horan adds. “We are all in this together. The issues and obstacles they face are not new. The doubts and fears they face are not new. The challenges and pitfalls they face are not new. We women are all in this together. The lessons Betty learned 90 years ago are still completely relevant to the modern women today. Betty remains an inspiration and a wonderful example to follow. And through it all, Betty’s confidence, determination to stand up for what’s right, and her humor remain intact.
Spencer concurs, noting, “I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to create a book that covers so many topics that are as relevant to women today as they were when Betty Boop made her big screen debut ninety years ago. I love the saying, ‘Empowered women empower women,’ and Betty is such a great example of that.”
Originally introduced in 1930, Betty Boop was created by Max Fleischer for his “Talkartoons” series, the first “talkies” of animation, which Max Fleischer’s company, Fleischer Studios, produced for Paramount. By 1932 Betty, considered to be the first and only female animated screen star, had taken the country by storm. She starred in more than 100 cartoons, 90 of which are included in the official Betty Boop series, which ended in 1939. Since then, Betty has appeared in dozens of hit movies, television specials and commercials.
“In her 90 storied years, Betty has sung, sashayed, and ‘Boop-Oop-a-Dooped’ past rules and conventions, unafraid to take risks or set trends, proving time after time that she can do anything she sets her mind to,” Horan concludes. “She is one of the most popular and successfully licensed characters in entertainment history, with licensees in the United States and around the world that produce quality products bearing Betty’s likeness in virtually every category.”
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.